The Big Switch: Tips for Transitioning Your Baby from a Bottle to a Cup

Posted 3.26.13 | Mallory West

We often hear from parents looking for tips to transition their baby from a bottle to a cup. It can be a difficult process for any parent but it can be especially stressful for parents of children with multiple food allergies who depend on a special formula for a bulk of their nutritional needs. In today’s post, we’ll provide you with some tips and resources for making the big switch! 

According to the AAP, babies should be weaned from the bottle at by about 12-15 months old. Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends weaning children from the bottle by around 12 to 14 months of age to prevent tooth decay, which can occur if a child remains on a bottle past this point.

Baby Steps:

Bottles are comforting for babies, so it can be a difficult attachment to break. But the longer you wait past the recommended weaning age, the stronger the attachment will become and the more difficult it will be to break. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all at once. You might start by just replacing the mid-day bottle with a training or sippy cup but continue to offer the morning and evening bottles. It may take time for your little one to figure out how to use the training cup, so be patient and don’t get discouraged.

After he gets the hang of the cup, start replacing the morning and evening bottles one by one. It’s ok to make this a gradual process, occurring over several weeks. Generally, the bedtime bottle is the most difficult to part with, so you might save this one for last.

For those who want to take things slow, you can even make the transition to a training cup gradual. There are different stages of training cups which go from more bottle-like, to more cup-like.  Check out the selection at your local baby store. You’ll notice some cups advertised as a “first cup”. These are usually shaped similar to a bottle, but with a soft spout rather than a nipple to get baby used to the new mouth feel. However, these still require sucking, not sipping, so although they can be useful for making the transition smoother, they should only be a temporary step since they don’t teach your baby the sipping skills necessary to drink from a regular cup. Some training cups have handles to make it easier for little hands to grip and most are spill-proof to avoid messes along the way. You’ll notice that many cups are labeled with certain age ranges (6 months and up, 18 months and up, etc), so you can try different stages until you make the full transition to a regular cup.  

Chin Up:

Try to remember to view this transition as a good thing and instead of focusing on giving up the bottle, focus on the gain of a new developmental milestone! Stay positive and praise your little one along the way for drinking like a big kid.

Do you have any advice for other parents struggling to make the transition? Please share!


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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.